One of the biggest problems EU leaders have to find ways to overcome is the fact that the “old” continent is in fact becoming old. As the European birth rate has been dropping at a rapid rate over the last couple of decades, the European continent will become soon a continent inhabited by a increasing majority of seniors. Since this demographic trend develops, EU reforms and retirement policies try to address the issue and give Europe its chance to maintain its productivity levels high and its overall outcome on surplus. Thus, contemporary ethnographic studies support that keeping Europeans health at high levels, especially for those over the age of sixty, is not only a social policy act governments should focus on providing, but also a wise economic policy that will keep Europeans able to continue being productive members of society and thus, lowering the negative outcomes of an alarming EU reality. One method to keep older people healthier is to focus on their dietary habits and introducing new nutritional practices that can increase life expectancy levels. According to researchers, one of the choices an aging person has to keep being healthy and active is to follow the Mediterranean diet.
In fact, the Mediterranean diet is associated with longer life expectancy among the elderly, because it is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and cereals. Furthermore, one of the basic nutritional elements shared across all Mediterranean cultures is the high intake of fish and the low consumption levels of saturated fats. On the other hand, olive oil, which belongs to the unsaturated fats category, helps the human organism function and provides all the necessary ingredients for the aged part of the EU’s population to continue being healthy and thrive. Furthermore, the low intake of dairy products and meat and the modest consumption of alcohol have helped the elderly in countries like Spain and Greece to live longer and healthier lives and maintain their productivity levels high close to the end of their lives.
As current evidence suggests, such a diet is beneficial to the health of all individuals regardless of their age group or residence location. Scientists, after examining a variety of factors like diet, lifestyle, medical history, physical activity levels, and smoking have recognized the importance of the Mediterranean diet in keeping the body fit and the mind working properly. In fact, a higher dietary score was associated with a lower overall death rate and evidence suggests that people who follow such a dietary plan are expected to live longer and suffer less from illnesses.
What is alarming though is that the younger generation of Europe that has began following the Western type of diet-larger portions, fewer meals, less vegetable and fruit intake-have experienced problems associated with weight gain and are now battling against disfiguring their body types. Modern way of living, stress, less available time to prepare a proper meal and other problems, have led parents to neglect the nutrition of their children and has led them to fight problems such that of youth obesity and low self-esteem. Educating seniors should be a combined effort with educating youth as both age groups are considered currently to be the future of the “aging” European continent.